Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
All Progressives Congress, APC, Rivers State governorship candidate, Dr Dakuku Adol Peterside, Senatorial candidates, Senator Magnus Abe, Andrew Uchendu and others on Monday protested to the Rivers State headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, calling for the cancellation of the Presidential and National Assembly elections in parts of the state because it was marred by irregularities.
Speaking on behalf of the candidates, Peterside said what happened on Saturday was a travesty of democracy.
The APC leaders said as far as they were concerned, there was no election in Rivers State, saying what happened was a compromised exercise in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, desperate to “deliver” Rivers State to PDP.
The protesters sang songs and carried placards bearing inscriptions such as: “No Rigging in Rivers”, “INEC be Seen to be Credible”, “Cancel the Election in Rivers,” “INEC iN Rivers compromised”, among others.
They peacefully marched through Port Harcourt/Aba Expressway to INEC office, causing traffic jam on the major highway.
Not even the heavy security barricade mounted by the police with their armoured personnel carriers could intimidate them as they broke through the barricade to lodge their complaint before they were peacefully dispersed.
In a statement signed by Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, Director of Communications of Greatertogether Campaign Organisation of Dakuku Peterside said the All Progressives Congress, APC, Rivers State and party members today marched in protest to the offices of the Independent Electoral Commission in Rivers State.
Thousands of APC members, including candidates, polling agents and other leaders of the party across the 23 local government areas, marched to the INEC offices demanding a cancellation of the Presidential and National Assembly elections that did not hold in Rivers State.
According to the statement, on arrival at the INEC offices, the APC members were met by Mr Roy Obitoro, who stood in for the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mrs. Geisila Khan who the APC accused of compromising the elections in Rivers State.
The statement claimed that Mr Nyesom Wike, Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party was seated in the conference hall of the INEC headquarters where votes were being received from the LGA’s.
Mr Wike’s personal car, a black Toyota SUV with registration number NEW 777 FG was parked inside the INEC premises.
Dr. Dakuku Peterside, candidate of the APC was denied entry and when the APC protested, Mr. Azuka Asioba, a security detail attached to Mr. Wike, shot at the crowd.
The party said that several APC members were harassed, injured and killed in shootings by PDP thugs across the state on Saturday.
The APC has already issued a statement condemning the killings and calling for the cancellation of the purported elections in Rivers State.
Meanwhile, team of foreign election observers today condemned last Saturday’s presidential election in Rivers State, questioning the election’s validity due to lapses in some of the places they visited.
Speaking on behalf of the observers, Jennifer Lynne, the executive director of The Contact Project, noted that there were some obstructions in the delivery of electoral materials, as well as violence and intimidation during the elections.
She urged the candidates across the country to enforce the peace accord, stressing that things went on smoothly generally, because the use of biometric capture machine by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was a formidable step for the votes of Nigerians to count.
She said: “As many have reported, we would confirm the difficulties of availability and security of result sheets. Ranging from distribution to collection, many stations were compromised due to the handling of these materials.
“In addition, as widely reported, we observed severe challenges due to the dysfunctional card readers, causing lengthy delays, voter denial, and reporting irregularities. Further concerns include the tampering of electoral materials, question of security concerns, and reports of misconduct by election officials and candidates.”
She said that there were irregularities in some council areas such as Omuma, Tai, Ahoada East, Ogu/Bolo, Bonny, and Khana, noting that they (observers) would make a full report on the state’s election to INEC, “as a part of a larger observation feedback provided by various organizations in Nigeria.
Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State refused to be accredited to vote in Ubima his home town in Ikwerre local Government area state in protest against the inability of INEC to produce the result sheets and other vital materials before the election on Saturday.
In a swift reaction, the Rivers State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP says the conduct of the Presidential and National Assembly elections in the State on Saturday was credible and the result reflects the overwhelming wish of the people of Rivers State to support President Goodluck Jonathan and candidates of the party.
The State Chairman of the PDP, Felix Obuah made the assertion in a statement in Port Harcourt and made available to journalists.